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About Polymers to Restore The Sound of Music?


In the near future, people who have lost their voice may be able to have it restored thanks to a flexible polymer being developed by Harvard and MIT scientists. The new material mimics the movements of the vocal cords.


The development could help those who have scarred vocal cords, such as children whose cords were damaged from intubation during surgery, victims of laryngeal cancer, or even those who have strained their cords from overuse. About 6% of the U.S. population has some kind of voice disorder, says Sandeep Karajanagi, a former MIT researcher who developed the polymer while working as a post doc in a university lab.


To make their material mimic the movement of human vocal cords, the team started with polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is widely used in the cosmetics industry, and altered the chemical linkages between its molecules. This change allowed them to control the polymerís viscosity and elasticity. Tests have shown that when air is blown through a model of the vocal cords made from the altered PEG, the model moves in a way that real vocal cords do.


The polymer is not intended to heal scarred tissue. Instead, it is designed to make the whole tissue flexible enough to restore vibrations to normal. The idea is to have the polymer gel injected under the tissue membrane - the thin layer of cells that covers the vocal cords - forming an additional layer within. The gel could have different physical characteristics to have varying vocal effects for people with different voices.


Ref: by Dale McGeehon , Exclusive to Polymer Solutions News,

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